Well, I was a skydiver before I was a computer scientist so I started skydiving when I turned
18 and I wrote my first computer program probably when I was 19, so the order is definitely
sky diving then computer science.
But I skydived for a very long time.
I’ve obviously worked in the technology field for a long time.
I had pretty much given up skydiving at one point when I moved out of California in 1984
and didn’t make another skydive for a very long time.
但与此同时我开始开飞机 在科技公司工作 做管理工作
Meanwhile I started flying airplanes and working in technology companies, working on management.
And it wasn’t until maybe six or seven years ago that I got the bug to skydive again and
so for that I got requalified in skydiving and then it’s a long story but I ended up
deciding to try a stratospheric skydive as well.
The key inside that I think I had and that the team had was trying to build a capsule,
a large capsule, maybe pressurized, maybe not, with lots of the infrastructure for going
up was not the best way to accomplish what we were trying to accomplish.
It was also not necessarily safest or the cheapest way to get into the stratosphere.
And for us we wanted to take the analogy of scuba diving that if you’re a scuba diver
you take exactly what you need with you and nothing else underneath the water and we wanted
to find a stratosphere equivalent.
And so that’s where we built, scuba diving for the stratosphere.
这套装备是由ILC Dover 公司设计的
The suit was designed by ILC Dover.
They built all the Apollo suits.
They build all of the extra vehicle activity suits for the Space Shuttle, International
Space Station, American astronauts, so they had a lot of experience of building space suits.
The challenge in this case was they were doing a lot of things that they had never done before.
First they had never worked with a private citizen on a project, they were used to these
very long government programs that take years and years even to get the approval to move
to the next step.
And here they were acting like a startup company.
They built a suit from scratch to deployment and testing probably in a period of a year
or two and that probably is about the same time that they had to put a proposal for something
It was the first suit that had been certified from scratch and put into production in probably
30 years so it was a big undertaking for them to do.
As far as the technology for the suit, no suit had ever been heated before, it had only
This suit had an internal frame that was used to support the equipment module.
It had to have thermal connections between it; the suit architecture was very different
because we wanted to make sure that there was no fogging and we also needed to guarantee
that we would use the minimum amount of oxygen.
So normally these systems flood oxygen by you and so they don’t have to worry about
二氧化碳的问题 但我们想用更少量的氧气 同时还想
carbon dioxide, but we wanted to use much less oxygen and we wanted to eliminate the
possibility that you would end up with any kind of moisture or freezing on the faceplate.
So we had to design an entirely new architecture and they were fantastic.
我们从飞机上试跳了五次 慢慢适应了这套装备 并且学会了
We had five airplane jumps where we got used to flying the suit and learned a little bit
about how to control the suit in free fall.
后来我们又在热气球上跳过三次 第一次从57,000 英尺的高空 第二次是105,000英尺
And we followed that up by three balloon jumps, first from 57,000 feet, the second one 105,000
feet and the third was a record jump from 135,890 feet.
The speeds that we acquired during that jump we broke mark one in about 37 seconds of that
free fall and we reached our highest speed 822 miles an hour in about 51 seconds.
I mean the problems with the capsule are they’re a bit complicated, they’re heavy, which requires
a very, very large balloon to be able to lift them.
So because the balloon is so large it actually requires a different launch technique to use.
And so by making the system a lot smaller and a lot lighter, which you could use a much
smaller balloon and then in turn the smaller balloon allows you to use a much simpler and
I think safer launch system.
So at the start we had a lot going for us.
The second thing is the interconnection between the balloon and the skydiver has caused issues
in the past.
In a previous attempt, for instance, somebody was unable to disconnect the oxygen and therefore
had to ride down with the balloon and it was a harrowing experience when Joe Kittinger
1960年Joe Kittinger 想从气球里出来 但他却连出座位都困难
in 1960 tried to get out of his balloon he had trouble getting out of the seat.
So there was lots of different issues associated with capsules.
And the other really bad thing about a capsule is if you’re depending on the ship’s oxygen
for most of the trip and you’re just going to have what’s called a bail out bottle of
oxygen, as soon as you disconnect from that capsule the time is set.
You have exactly maybe 15 minutes to get into breathable air or you’re going to die.
而类似水肺潜水器的系统的好处就是 我有5个小时的氧气量 所以
The nice piece about a scuba like system is that I have five hours of oxygen so there’s
我根本不着急被迫出舱 断开连接 然后马上跳下
nothing compelling for me to get out, disconnect and get down right away.
I have lots of time.
So if the parachute opens high that’s not an issue.
So there’s a lot of safety aspects that come into this particular design, a lot of redundancies
that came into this design to make it much safer on a lot of different dimensions.
How do you look at a problem area and try to understand whether the approach that’s
always been taken is the right one or not?
And I think the biggest thing for me is you kind of try to go back to first principles,
what is the problem that you’re trying to solve?
And don’t look at every other solution in that space, but look at solutions in other
spaces around it and try to figure out parallels.
So in my case what I wanted to do is be able to explore the stratosphere.
I wanted to be up in the stratosphere and I wanted to be able to do anything once I’m
in the stratosphere.
So a capsule idea doesn’t really get you – it’s hard to get the capsule up in the stratosphere,
这很复杂 但主要问题还是在于 它不能让我在平流层
it’s complicated, but the main issue is it doesn’t allow me to do anything that I want
in the stratosphere.
So let’s say I wanted to take a balloon trip and then come back down with the balloon.
Well, if I build a capsule then I have to have a whole different capsule designed for
going up and coming down.
或者说 我突然决定乘滑翔机上去 你知道现在有很多方式可用
Or let’s say I all of a sudden decided I wanted to go up in a sailplane, you know there’re some fabulous
efforts right now to see if you can use, you know, around the Andes and even in South
America these poler lifts that they think might be able to allow a sailplane to get
up to maybe 100,000 feet.
所以当你有了飞行舱 现在又想用滑翔机 你就只能一切重来
So if you got this capsule well now I want to use a sailplane so I have to start over
because I have to combine building an aircraft and a life support system.
But let’s imagine separating those two.
比如说 我就只想建立一个生命支持系统 那么我可以只是想象一下
Let’s say I’m just going to build a life support system then I can conceivably just go into
any sailplane and be able to do that.
So the key for me is step away from it, look at the problem you’re trying to solve and
then start looking at all the possible solutions for that class of problem in all the domains
that are around it.
And if you do that you’ll often find insights that make the problem that used to be incredibly
complex and incredibly expensive you can find a different approach that might be a lot cheaper,
而且可能更简单 更安全 它花费更少 唯一的问题就是
it might be a lot easier, it might be a lot safer, it might cost a lot less, but the issue
is when you first come up with it people are going to kind of think you’re crazy.
Because the first time you ever think about something in a totally new domain the initial
总是负面的 并不是因为他们不喜欢你 也不是因为
reaction is always going to be negative, not because the people don’t love you, not because
they don’t care about you, but because nobody has seen this problem in that dimension.
And they’ll continue for a while.
然后就在某个时刻 (我爱死这一刻了) 当不可能变成了可能
And then there’s this moment, which I love, which is when something goes from the impossible
and it will quickly go to the inevitable.
And so it’s that moment of impossible to inevitable and in many technologies that swap happens
not over 20 years, but over a month and that’s what excites me.